Part 7: Hamilton
April 23rd - May 1st: Hamilton is where I stayed the longest, but honestly, I think it's also the place where the least happened, because most of my time was spent less as a tourist and more as a long-lost member of Liz' family, returning home. Lovely, wonderful and terrific for me, but probably a bit boring for other people to read about ;)
But back on track. On April 23rd, Brent drove me to Palmy airport where I picked up my rental car and the GPS. I entered Liz' address into the GPS and it asked me if I wanted, "The quickest route, the easiest route, the shortest route or the scenic route". Ding-ding-ding-ding! :D
Love these hills!
Taihape is know as Gumboot Capital - they actually have annual gumboot throwing competitions. Unfortunately I missed the "Welcome to Gumboot Capital" sign when I drove into Taihape, so when I caught this on my way out, I had to stop for a photo!
With the GPS, driving to Hamilton was a breeze. It was a 5 hour drive, but didn't feel that long AT ALL! The scenary was absolutely gorgeous, driving on the wrong side of the road not a problem at all, and the time just flew by, so at 6pm I pulled up by Liz' place and was finally able to give my bestest best friend a hug again :)
The next week went by all too quickly. Liz sings in church choir, so I joined her for the Easter Vigil and the Easter Sunday service (and had my one bout of homesickness during the latter, as Easter Sunday services have always been a big deal in my church / my family. Fortunately the last hymn we sang happened to be one we sing in Denmark as well, and I know it off by heart, so I was able to sing along in Danish, and suddenly it felt like a proper Easter again :) Funny how music can do that), we went over to see Liz' parents several times (they were my 'reserve host-family' back then, and have always spoiled me rotten ;) ), we spent a couple of rainy days just sitting and chatting, doing crafty stuff and Liz managed to get me thoroughly hooked on The Big Bang Theory, so I'm going to have to get hold of that one now ;)
Wednesday Liz took me to a pub quiz to meet some of her friends (and do the quiz, obviously ;) ), we ended up taking second place, and had a brilliant time. I'm glad I got to meet some of her friends, so I can put faces to the people she talks about in her emails to me.
Friday Liz' parents had invited us to join them for a high tea at a Japanese tea house just outside Hamilton - apparently the only place outside Asia where Oolong tea is grown :) The high tea was served with sushi and cakes and absolutely delicious. Yum!
After the high tea we'd been invited back to Liz' parents' place to join them for the Royal Wedding. Honestly, I hadn't had any desire to watch it at all, but I REALLY like Liz' family, and this was a chance to get to spend more time with them, which is always a good thing. Liz' brother and his wife were there as well, as were two of Liz' uncles and aunts. I was REALLY pleased to get to meet them! I may have known Liz for 15 years, but I'd never before met anybody outside her immediate family, so it was excellent to get to meet some of the uncles and aunts she'd been telling me about :) I immediately liked them. They just seem like really nice people, and their humour is pretty much the same as the rest of Liz' family, so I fit in right away :) They seemed to like me too, and one of Liz' aunts ended up telling me, "You'll do. I approve of you as Liz' sister". Hehe - thanks!